These very short vignettes focus on a character other than Polly. While they are written at the same time I am working on a book and generally happen in the same time frame, they never offer spoilers to the story or anything more than a tiny peek at what might be happening in Polly’s life.
Vignettes are published in each of the newsletters which arrive on the 25th of every month, but sometimes the characters insist that I tell a quick story about them.
Book 15 is well on its way to completion and will be published on September 25th. Until then, I’ll sprinkle a few vignettes on you, just so you can stay in touch with Bellingwood.
No Good Deed
“We’re gone, punk,” Jason yelled up the steps. “Mom says don’t forget to mow and trim. I’ll be back at twelve-thirty. Don’t make me wait.”
Andrew rolled over and groaned. He hated lawn day. Mowing wasn’t that big of a deal, but he hated getting up in the morning. If he wanted to see Rebecca, though, he had to mow before Jason showed up.
Padme stretched out along Andrew’s length and he tucked his legs up under her butt, pulling her close. He threw an arm over her shoulder and tucked his face into her neck. Just a few more minutes.
He didn’t know what was up with these people in his house who scheduled things before eight o’clock. He was a night person and had to be quiet so that his mom and Jason could sleep. It only seemed fair that they should be quiet in the morning when he was sleeping. If he told Jason what to do at midnight, his brother would kill him.
“I’m telling you,” he mumbled to Padme. “It isn’t fair.”
He’d been up late last night working on a story. He wanted to show it to Rebecca when he saw her today. Andrew yawned and turned over onto his back. Padme didn’t leave much room, so he turned over onto his other side so their backs were up against each other. She wiggled until she was comfortable and in moments he heard her quiet snoring.
Next week was the sesquicentennial celebration in town. There were four dances happening at Sycamore House. Rebecca didn’t know it, but he’d been practicing in the living room every morning after Jason and his mom left for work. He found a bunch of dances on-line and after he moved the furniture out of the way, he had a lot of room. Girls. Bah. They just had no idea what boys did to make them happy.
Andrew turned over onto his stomach and smacked the pillow to make a hole for his head. Who was he kidding? He’d do anything to make Rebecca happy. He lifted his head and dropped it into the pillow. He was such a sap. His buddies thought he was crazy, spending so much time with her during the summer. But she was more fun than they were and interesting things always happened around Polly.
Padme turned over and licked Andrew’s face.
“I know, I know. I might as well get up and mow the lawn. I can’t stop thinking about stuff.” Andrew gave her a little push and she sat up beside him. He swung his legs out of bed on the other side and stood up, then looked around for clothes. Polly yelled at Rebecca all the time about her room. Andrew tried to keep his clean, but sometimes he wore his shorts more than one day and where else should he put them? Not the laundry basket and not back in the dresser. He picked them up off the floor and looked around for a not-too-dirty t-shirt. He wasn’t putting a clean shirt on to go outside and sweat.
“You can play in the back yard while I mow,” he said, then he grumbled. “I suppose I should clean your poop up before I mow. Someday I’m going to get a real job and then nobody will tell me that I’m the only one who has to do all of your work.”
Padme wagged her tail.
Andrew laughed. “Yeah. I know. You like to eat your poop, but that doesn’t help me. It’s gross and you just poop it out again.” He rubbed his hand across her head. “A real machine, you are.”
He grabbed up his phone from the dock on the kitchen counter before heading outside and sent Rebecca a good morning text. She’d be surprised to see it come in so early. He told her what he was doing and then unbuttoned his back pocket and dropped the phone in. Just in case she texted back.
Padme nipped at his feet while he cleaned up the back yard and when he was finished, he chased her around before throwing her favorite ball. She’d gotten better at playing fetch, finally figuring out that if she brought it to him, he’d throw it again.
Andrew tossed it one more time and then slipped out of the back gate to get the mower out of the garage. He checked the gas level. Jason was supposed to make sure that it was full and ready to go every time after Andrew used it. That was their deal. Eliseo had taught Jason how to do maintenance on the mowers at Sycamore House and Sylvie decided he could be responsible for the mower here, too. Andrew pushed it out of the garage and pulled the cord to start it. He always did the side and front yard first. The back yard was a pain with all of Padme’s toys.
Lately he’d been mowing Mrs. Cameron’s lawn next door, too. She never said anything and didn’t offer to give him any money, but the one time he saw her out there pushing a mower, he told his mom he’d just do it himself. She was old and he could tell that it hurt her knees when she mowed.He was just crossing back into his yard after finishing hers when he thought he heard someone yell. Andrew turned the mower off and stood stock still, waiting for the sound again.
“Help me!” a voice called.
It sounded like it came from behind Mrs. Cameron’s house, so he ran down the side of his fence to her back yard. He didn’t mow back here. Everything was a garden. Even though he mowed for her, the last thing he was doing was weed her gardens. She had flowers all around the neighbors’ fences and somebody, Sylvie thought it was her son, helped her build raised garden beds for vegetables.
“Mrs. Cameron?” he called.
“Andrew? I need you. Help me.”
He stopped at the edge of the sidewalk that ran alongside her house and looked around. “Where are you?”
“I’m inside. Please help me.”
Her voice grew more pitiful and scared the closer he got. That first holler must have taken it out of her.
Andrew leaped over a bushy plant and landed on the walk that led to her back door and ran up the steps. “Are you in here?”
“Come in,” she said.
He opened the door and found her lying on the floor of the back porch, garden utensils all around her and two empty pails on the floor behind her head. “What happened?” he asked.
“I fell and I can’t move anything.”
“You can’t move anything?” He knelt beside her.
“I can’t move my neck and my leg hurts when I try to move it.”
The leg was definitely broken. It was twisted in a really bad way. Andrew took his phone out of his back pocket, thankful that he’d thought to bring it with him. “I’m calling 9-1-1,” he said. “Don’t try to move anymore.”
“They’re going to send an ambulance, aren’t they?” she asked.
He nodded while waiting for the call to connect. Once they answered, he gave them the address and what he thought had happened, then answered their questions, wishing they’d just get off the phone and send someone. He knew better, but waiting with Mrs. Cameron wasn’t going to be easy and he wanted them to hurry.
Mrs. Camera looked up at him after he put his phone back. “Did you mow my yard already?”
“You’re a good boy. While we’re waiting, could you go out to my garden in the back and pick the red tomatoes that are there? That’s what I was going to do before I fell down. You might as well take them home. If they haul me away, I won’t be able to do anything with them.”
“How did you fall?” he asked.
She lifted her hand and pointed at the inside door. “I forgot there was a step there and my leg twisted when I went down.”
Andrew picked up the buckets. “I don’t want to leave you. I’ll pick the tomatoes when the EMTs get here.”
You might as well do it now,” she said. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“No, the operator told me to stay. Who built your gardens?”
“I paid a young man to do that. At least I don’t have to bend over all the time.”
Andrew took a deep breath. No thank you, no money, nothing but that he was a good boy for doing her lawn. However, she could pay someone to build a garden for her. He sat in a chair beside the back door. “Are your cats inside?” he asked.
Her eyes misted up. “Dino and Sammy. I hate to ask, but will you watch over them while I’m gone? I don’t have anybody else.”
“Of course I can,” he said. “Where’s the cat food?”
“It’s in a cupboard beside the stove. You have to sit with them while they eat so they don’t eat each others food. Dino gets the Prescription Diet regular and Sammy gets the diet food. He’s my little tubby boy. There’s a little cup in each bag. One in the morning and then half of one at night. Sometimes I like to put some canned food in at night for a treat. But you do what you want. The litter box is in the downstairs shower and the litter is in the cupboard under the sink. I changed it last weekend, so it should be okay unless I’m gone for a long time.” Tears started to run down her face.
“It’s okay, Mrs. Cameron. I’ll take care of them for as long as you need me to.”
The siren that had been sounding through town came to a stop in front of the house.
“I’m going to go out and make sure they know how to get back here,” Andrew said. “Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.” He ran out the back door and around the house, catching the EMTs before they went up onto Mrs. Cameron’s front porch. “She’s back here,” he said.
He stood outside while they went in and after a few minutes, they brought the gurney down the steps.
She called his name.
“Yes, Mrs. Cameron?”
“Don’t forget the tomatoes,” she said.
“I won’t. I promise.” He didn’t want to tell her that it had left his mind within seconds of her saying something the first time. “Is she okay?” he asked one of the EMTs.
“We’ll let them decide all of that at the hospital,” the young man said.
“Are you taking her to Boone?”
“Yes,” Mrs. Cameron said. “That’s where my doctor is. Boone. Tell your mother I’m there. Maybe she’ll want to come see me.”
Andrew nodded and watched as they left. Cats and tomatoes. He was pretty sure his mom would find more ways to help Mrs. Cameron when the old lady got home. It sure would be nice if she’d say thank you. He shrugged. Sylvie would tell him to get over himself; that it wasn’t about him. He started the mower, finished the front lawn and went into the back yard. Padme jumped around enough that he finally put her inside so he could finish his work without worrying that she’d get hurt.
His mom was going to laugh if he brought home a lot of tomatoes. She’d been canning tomatoes all summer. Eliseo’s garden at Sycamore House was exploding and they couldn’t sell them or get rid of enough, fast enough. He parked the mower back in its spot, then went over to Mrs. Cameron’s. He picked up her tools and put them on the table, then gathered the buckets and went out to the garden. Sure enough, the tomato plants were bulging with big red tomatoes. They were going to eat spaghetti all winter long.
Andrew filled both buckets and looked around. She had peppers and cucumbers and even a few onions. Maybe Eliseo could tell him when they’d be ready to pick. His phone buzzed and he took it out, then smiled.
“What are you doing up so early?” Rebecca had asked.
Before he responded, he realized that he was glad he’d gotten up so early. If he hadn’t, who knew how long Mrs. Cameron might have been on the floor, worrying about who would ever find her.
“Helping a little old lady. I’ll tell you about later. 143,” he typed.
“143, too. See ya. Polly’s making breakfast.”
He and Rebecca thought they were the only ones who used those numbers, but then she did a search on-line and found that other people knew about them too. One for I, four for love, three for you. He hoped they’d always remember those numbers.